Living Inside The Loop
“The Loop” is the commonly referred to by Houstonians to describe the circular 610 highway that surrounds central Houston. Many feel the loop is not just a freeway that allows city dwellers quick travel to various parts of the city. Rather, Houstonians have come to acknowledge “the loop” as a cultural boundary that separates the residents of Houston.
The pejorative acronym, “OTL,” can be heard around town, and is meant to describe the area “Outside The Loop.” One can hear it in pretentious bars in the village, trendy boutiques in Mid Town, and the overpriced restaurants on Westheimer.The expression leaves some residents baffled as to what exactly this expression implies. Perhaps the connotation hints at a lack of sophistication or it is simply a means by which people differentiate themselves. Whatever the case may be, there is a growing demand for apartment housing inside the loop. Areas inside the loop that were once given over to pawn shops and salvage yards are going through a process of regentrification. Shotgun houses are being bull dozed to make way for town homes and plush apartment communities.
The demand for apartments and general housing inside the loop has resulted in increasing rents and real estate valuations across central Houston. There was once a time when Houstonians fled the inner city giving rise to a hollow shell effect.Now residents pour back into the city core searching for convenience and perhaps cultural acceptance.
To conclude with a silver lining, it must be noted that there are still options for those who wish to live inside the loop for under the all too common rent budget of $500 per month. Extremely livable and even pleasant apartment homes can still be found along Memorial and in the Medical Center. It just takes a little expertise to find them.
By Phil Silberman
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